Chrysler And Fiat Are Now One Big Happy Family — But Where’s Home? – Forbes
The union between Fiat and Chrysler first envisioned five years ago, when Chrysler was on the brink of liquidation, is now complete, following Fiat’s purchase of the remaining 41 percent of Chrysler’s shares from a retiree trust fund.
Now called Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the world’s seventh-largest automaker even has a new logo, which the company says represents “an organization that is much more than the sum of its two component parts, based on strong core values that represents a unique corporate culture, a common vision and a Group with an international reach.”
But where on earth is FCA based? It’s incorporated in the Netherlands, so it must be Dutch, right? Well, Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said the company will reside in the United Kingdom because it makes sense for tax purposes. So it’s a U.K.-based company then? But its primary stock listing will be on the New York Stock Exchange, with a secondary market in Milan. Meanwhile, Chrysler has a huge headquarters complex outside of Detroit. Fiat has its own headquarters in Milan.
This is no small question. The choice of corporate headquarters has huge political implications, especially in Italy, where the economy is a mess and workers are naturally worried about their jobs. After all Chrysler’s been through, nobody in Detroit wants to see its U.S. presence diminished either.
I asked company spokesman Gualberto Ranieri for clarification on where the new company will be based. “Like today, on a plane,” he replied.
It sounded like a cop out to me. Welcome to the new age of the global multinational.
In a statement, Marchionne said: “Today is one of the most important days in my career at Fiat and Chrysler. Five years ago we began to cultivate a vision that went beyond industrial cooperation to include full cultural integration at all levels. We have worked tenaciously and single-mindedly to transform differences into strengths and break down barriers of nationalistic or cultural resistance. Today we can say that we have succeeded in creating solid foundations for a global automaker with a mix of experience and know-how on a level with the best of our competitors. An international governance structure and listings will complete this vision and improve the Group’s access to global markets bringing obvious financial benefits.”
The company added that “the existing organization based on four operating regions will remain central to the operating and management structure of the new Group. All activities forming part of FCA will continue with the same mission, including manufacturing plants in Italy and elsewhere around the globe, with no impact on headcount.”
But I suppose Ranieri is right. As chief executive of both automakers, Marchionne has spent an inordinate amount of time crossing the Atlantic in an airplane. That won’t change now that they are merged into one. (Asked about succession planning, Marchionne joked, “I wonder why anyone with a minimum amount of sanity would want this job.” For the record, he has committed to stay three more years.) At least now he needs only one set of business cards.